March 23, 2023


By Richard Beale….

Torrential rain before the match started resulted in pools of water on the pitch, which made conditions treacherous but Esentepe overcame this and difficult opponents, to maintain their grip on a top 6 finish.


Saturday, March 18, 2023: AKSA League 1: Esentepe Erdal Barut Stadium.

Weather: Drizzle at the start, then cloudy and overcast.

Heavy torrential rain in the Esentepe area put this match in doubt but Referee Mustafa Öztuğay gave the pitch a thorough examination before the start and gave it the ok. Most of the pitch was covered in pools of water, especially in the goalmouths but as the game wore on it drained well. Apart from 5 minutes of rain when the match started it remain cloudy and overcast as soon as the final whistle blew the heavens opened again.

The pools of water lead initially to some comical moments with players losing their feet and the ball getting stuck in the water. Esentepe adapted to the conditions better, playing no-nonsense football, whereas Lapta who has some talented players were trying to play their normal short passing game. Lapta is a tall side with defenders Sezer, Orhan, and Necip towering over the Esentepe players but they were probably hampered by the conditions trying to turn quickly.

These would have been ideal conditions for Esentepe leading goal scorer Deniz Kıbar, short, quick, skilful he would have had a field day in these conditions but he is still recovering from a hamstring problem.

Esentepe got what they wanted an early lead in the 5th minute an Emek cross was headed back across goal and there was young striker EGE CAN AÇIKPORTALI to hook the ball home and record his 6th goal of the season. 1-0.

Esentepe suffered a blow in the 18th minute with Captain Nersin Osman suffering a reoccurrence of a hamstring injury he was replaced by the veteran Okan Kıbar who had a fine match after coming on.

Lapta was getting plenty of possession buzzing around the Esentepe goal and it took some good blocks from Devran and Okan to prevent the visitors equalising.

Against really the run of play Esentepe increased their lead in the 34th minute when Melih by the left-hand by-line saw his cross handled by Doğuş, referee Mustafa Öztuğay was in a perfect position and awarded a penalty. The dependable “my left foot” EMEK KIRILMAZ duly dispatched the spot kick. 2-0

Esentepe rode their luck again when Devran attempting a clearance, sliced the wet ball just over his own crossbar.

Deep in first-half injury time teenager Salih Karal almost scored his first senior goal for Esentepe shooting just over the bar.


Emek who had taken over the Captaincy from Nersin and was leading by example sent a “screamer” from 40 yards just past the left-hand post in the 48th minute.

Esentepe had appeals for another penalty turned down in the 54th minute as Emre appeared to be upended by Necip just inside the box, this time Referee Mustafa waved aside the home team’s appeals.

Esentepe were dominating the play and put together a great move in the 67th minute, Goalkeeper Osman’s long throw out, involving Ege on the left whose cross was “dummied” by Melih to substitute Semih to strike a fierce shot and Lapta goalkeeper Okyanus made a fine diving save pushing the ball away.

Lapta was pushing men forward but could make no impression on a rock-steady Esentepe defence, this led them vulnerable to fast raiding breakaways by the home team.

Okyanus clears the ball from Melih

In the 73rd minute, another fine Esentepe move saw the fast-raiding Mustafa Soytürk being sent away on the right by Semih, his cross found Melih whose shot was brilliantly pushed over the bar by Okyanus.


SUMMING UP: A deserved win, a hard-working professional performance in trying conditions. All of the squad played their part one way or another. The battle was won in midfield where Esentepe is very fortunate to have 4 talented players who complement each other. TUĞRA KILIÇ, the anchor in midfield, won many challenges, EMRE MUTLU again all action performance both in attack and in defence, and SALIH KARAL, full of running and energy. Now approaching the veteran stage of his career İLYAS NIYAZI now playing in an unaccustomed left-side roll, has the experience and talent showed good touches. A sound defence, restricted Lapta, and up front Ege Can and Melih really worked hard. Goalkeeper Osman Erdoğan not only growing physically is growing in statue with every match, his handling in wet conditions was exceptional. Esentepe’s next match is a real toughie – on Tuesday away to 3rd place Yeniboğaziçi – a Battle Royale.

ESENTEPE TEAM: Osman (gk) : Mahmut Izoğlu (Mustafa 46), Devran, Nersin © (Okan 18), Emek : TUĞRA ; Emre, Salih (Şahin 80), Ilyas (Semih 65) ; Melih, Ege Can (Hüseyin 80)

Replacements not used: Ulaş (gk), Mahmut Şen, Şenol.

LAPTA TEAM: Okyanus (gk) ; Doğuş,(Baris 46) Necip, Sezer, SÜleyman, Tarkan, Samet (Mustafa Yaşar 46), Göksel (Mustafa Asrın 80), Berkay, Orhan (Hasan 73), Ahmet, Şelcuk (Mazıum 80).

Yellow cards: Mahmut, Tuğra (Esentepe) Mustafa Asrın, Enes. (Lapta)

Referee: Mustafa Öztuğay ——excellent allowed for the difficult conditions and tried to keep the game moving. Ok

To see more photos please go to my Facebook page.

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